Family Healthcast: Can dogs sniff out coronavirus?

Family Healthcast

(WSYR-TV) — As we wrap up our seventh week of staying home, we are seeing the first signs of reopening Central New York. But, in order to prevent future coronavirus outbreaks, we need to test more people and identify those who have the virus, but feel fine.

This is where man’s best friend can come in.

We know that viruses have specific odors and the virus that causes COVID-19 is no exception.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are working with Labrador Retrievers to see if the canines can detect the odor and, if so, whether they might eventually be used in a sort of canine surveillance corps, the university said.

They are possibly offering a non-invasive, four-legged method to screen people in airports, businesses or hospitals.

It would not be surprising if the dogs prove adept at detecting coronavirus. In addition to drugs, explosives and contraband food items, dogs are able to sniff out malaria and cancers.

A similar effort is underway in London where researchers are now collecting COVID-19 samples.

Their goal is to train the dogs to sniff out the virus and deploy a small group of the dogs to airports in the United Kingdom. They say that each individual dog can screen up to 250 people per hour.

If the studies are successful, the researchers said dogs could become a new diagnostic tool that “could revolutionize our response to COVID-19.”

As always, stay home and stay safe.

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